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 Naturopathic Medicine: Fever As Healer 

Fever then should be a welcome companion to any disease process. It signifies that the body is attempting to eliminate the disease and toxic influences upon it. The process can be enhanced by following a few simple guidelines.
1) Rest - decrease all unnecessary activity, take the day off from work or keep the child home from school. Take the time to keep warm and read a good book, or if your body tells you, sleep.
2) Increase fluids - drink at least 6-8, eight ounce glasses of water a day for an adult and slightly less for a child. If you feel the need for more, then do so. Decrease all foods, taking only soups and broths for nourishment.
3) Medicines - take only those that enhance fevers and sweating. Teas such as Yarrow, Chamomille or Cat Nip enhance this mechanism and also help to calm the person. Other immune stimulating herbs or homeopathic medicines are excellent for this process, and may be used along with hydrotherapy techniques which enhance their action.
4) Monitor the temperature frequently - especially in a child. Rectal temperatures run 0.5 F above oral temperatures and those taken under the arm will be 0.5-1.0 F below the oral value. The new electronic digital thermometers (battery operated), are felt to be slightly inaccurate compared to the standard mercury ones. This should be kept in mind if the temperature starts to approach 105 F. The skin temperature measuring strips are good only as a screening test and a more accurate measure is needed to obtain a true value.
5) Observe - for changes in behavior, levels of consciousness or onset of convulsions and dehydration. Most parents have little problem with this as "parental intuition" plays a role. Your "feeling" should be listened to as it may prevent a fever or illness from getting out of hand. Dehydration may be assessed by pinching and feeling the skin on the face and hands for turgor (does the skin bounce back to its normal position) and dryness and observing the tongue for moisture. In newborns, retraction of the fontenells is a sign of dehydration as well. If in doubt, contact your physician.
6) Let the person know - you are there for them and that you care. This is felt to be one of the main therapeutic values of "chicken soup". Often times this is all it takes to ally fears and anxiety, which will aid in the healing process. Fear and anxiety have been shown in studies to depress the immune system.


In studies done with animals, it has been discovered that with the first onset of fever, they will seek out a warm place in which to lie quietly. They refuse all food and take fluids only as necessary to maintain that which is lost with perspiration. Children and most adults, respond to fever much like animals. A child will often find a warm place to lie down or cling to an adult and insist on being held tight. They usually do not wish to eat their most favorite foods (even ice cream), and tend to drink fluids sparingly, or if perspiring. As time goes by, they tend to become more quiet and less likely to tell you what is wrong unless they are uncomfortable.This commonly observed behavior has been termed "adaptive withdrawal" and serves to concentrate the body's efforts on fighting the disease process.
Some children however, may not show any discomfort with fevers below 102F (39 C) and, in fact, may wish to continue to be active and play. This may not hold true for infants, but refusal to breast or bottle feed and easy or unexplained irritability may be a sign of illness and fever.

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 About The Author
Thomas A. Kruzel N.D. is a Naturopathic Physician in private practice in Portland, Oregon with an emphasis on family practice, geriatric medicine and diseases of the urogenital tract. He is an Associate Professor of......more
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